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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Get Outside for Free During National Parks Week

The National Park Service turns 100 this year. If you're traveling or hoping to get outside for Spring Break and you're near a National Park (which most people are or can easily drive to), this is the time to see some of America's most beautiful scenery, along with amazing plants and native animals. For a whole week, you can get in to all National Parks free of charge. 

National Park Week

Use this week as a budget-friendly way to see some nature, get some exercise and maybe even educate yourself or your kiddos by visiting famous landmarks or historical site. Pack a picnic or even pack up your car for a few days away to make the most of your free time. 

Some things you could do:
  • Find a park
  • April 16: Today is National Junior Ranger Day! Get the kids involved in the Junior Ranger program. This free program allows them to learn through fun programs, games and exploration. When they finish the assignment at each park they visit, they get a special badge. 
  • April 22: Today is Earth Day! Show your appreciation for Mother Nature and a free outing by getting involved in clean-up programs and other activities. 
  • April 23: National Park Instameet! Join an Instagram meet-up and make some new outdoorsy friends to take pics with and post to inspire others to also get outside and pay a visit to a National Park near them.
  • April 24: Park Rx Day! Learn how to get healthier and get moving when parks hosts fun activities to promote physical and mental health.
Bryce Canyon

If camping is something you love, you can definitely find one where you can pitch your tent. if you are into birdwatching, get your binoculars out and find the best park for that. If you want to learn how people farmed and harvested in the old days, you can find a park to learn about that, too! Use the Find a Park page to search by activity or by where you are. Not sure which park is the best for you? Check out Budget Travel's post about finding just that!

Now, go pack a weekender bag with some sunscreen, walking shoes, your camera and a couple changes of underwear and get out there and see the cool stuff our nation has on display for absolutely nothing.

Where will you be headed for National Park Week?


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travel with More Counter Space with ORGO Lite

Have you ever gotten to your hotel or vacation rental and gone to put your stuff in the bathroom only to find there's no place to put it. Like, there's not even any counter space to put your toothbrush? So, maybe you improvise and put your toothbrush and toothpaste in a glass and set it on the back of the toilet. Then you think, that's totally gross. How can there only be a toilet and pedestal sink and no place to put anything, like your blowdryer? Are you supposed to just put it on the floor? The makers of ORGO feel your pain and decided to come up with a solution. ORGO Lite!

ORGO Lite toiletry case

This sleek toiletry case holds everything you need in a slim silhouette that slides open to reveal a case that fits easily on top of a normal pedestal sink with a little extra space as well. The case sits on top of an adjustable surface, so when the two parts slide apart, you have a counter/work space that wasn't there before, but means you can use the sink as you would if it had a place to put everything you need in order to get ready in the morning/evening. When you're done, zip close the compartments, slide them back together and stash it anywhere. Even if you drop it and it falls upside down, your contents won't get all broken or jumbled up.



When I first saw the ORGO, I wondered why no one had thought of this before. We've traveled quite a bit in Europe or smaller rentals where the only place to put your toiletries are to hang them on the back of the door, the knob or the towel rack. Not only that, but you can only take one or two items out at a time and then have to put them back as soon as you are done with them. It makes getting ready really annoying and inefficient. 


Just set this baby up on your counter, open it up and have everything you need right at your fingertips. It also works just as good if you have to bring it into another room to do your makeup because someone's in the bathroom (it happens more often than you'd like, I'll wager). The black case makes it easy to find your stuff and has removable organizer sections so you can use them as you need. 


I like to travel with trial size items, because I can take more in a smaller space and also use more space for bigger items, like my glasses and other necessities that you can't make smaller. I pretty much moved everything from my regular toiletry bag into the ORGO and it all fit perfectly with room to spare. The only thing you won't see in here are my solid shampoo and conditioner and my deodorant, because I happened to run out on my last trip. All of them would have fit in here though. You can put smaller things, jewelry or items you like to have close at hand (like eyeliner) in the elastic loops provided on each side or the zipper pockets. I used those for pills, bandaids and lady products.


As you can see, the organizational dividers do a good job of making different sized compartments that fit everything, but you can take them out completely as well, so you have one big compartment if you want. I like that kind of customization when I travel with different things for different destinations or shorter/longer trips. If I'm going away for a weekend, I may only use one side for bathroom things and use the other side for plugs for my electronics or for underwear and socks or for any number of other things.


You don't have to just use this when you travel either. Our smaller bathroom was just remodeled and we put in a smaller sink to make it feel a bit bigger. It works, but there is pretty much just room there for hand soap and a couple of toothbrushes. If anyone comes to visit, this might be an issue for them. As it is, this the bathroom I use to straighten my hair and there's absolutely no place for my flat iron, so I kinda just set in the sink while I'm using it and letting it cool. I don't care, but any guest might love this extra space to be able to do their makeup and fix their hair without juggling everything and having to constantly pick things up that probably rolled onto the floor.


Because the case is nice and rigid, you can also close one side and use the top of it for even more counter space. I love that so much. If you travel with kids, you can put their art supplies in one or small toys or other stuff they must have. Use one side for crayons and coloring books and the other for snacks. Whatever you want! They can use this in the back of the car, at restaurants and even on the plane to keep all their little stuff together while still giving them a place to play with it. 


The slimness of the case makes it easy to pack on top of your clothes in a normal carry-on. In fact, this carry-on is hardside and a bit smaller than my normal one and it fit either way I tried to put it in and wasn't bulky at all. It's a perfect layer that can work with shoes and other random items you don't put in the layer with your rolled clothes. Look at all that extra room!


So, why not use that extra room that ORGO gives your suitcase, too! I tucked my fave cardigan and a pair of fun flats into that space. Because of the ORGO's rigidity, strapping it down with the tie-downs in your bag won't smash any of your stuff inside and it won't lose it's shape at all. Plus, it's totally lightweight and any spills can just be wiped off with a damp cloth. ORGO is like the bathroom version of that large wooden cutting board you can use in a small kitchen to cover your sink to add extra counter space.

Keep everything you need always packed and move it from one bag to the next or from under your bathroom sink to your carry-on easily to make packing way less stressful and more fun. And if you had any other doubts about the coolness of ORGO, buyers, press and other Travel Goods Show attendees (like me!) named it first in Innovative Products for 2016. 

Other specs
Where to buy it: On ORGO's website
How much: $39.99
Size: 15.375” x 10.75" x 2.25" 
Colors it comes in: Black on Black | Paradise Pink | Green with Envy (shown)

If you're into ORGO as much as I am, be friends with them. Find them here:

Disclaimer: I was provided with the ORGO Lite for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stay Fresh On-The-Go with Savvy Travelers

Sometimes when you travel, you may be on the plane or in the car for many hours and your teeth feel gross and you might feel like your deodorant is failing and whatever else. I hate to feel grungy and I always carry stuff in my purse that helps to make me feel more fresh, whether it's mints, gum or a packet of wet wipes. The problem with some of those is that they don't last long or they dry out. Savvy Travelers knows you are strapped for space when you travel and you also want to feel fresh and clean wherever you go.

travel wipes

No matter where you are or what you're doing, Savvy Travelers single packets can go with you. So, whether you're off camping for the weekend or headed to the amusement park for the week, you're covered. And they don't require water or need to fit in your 3-1-1 bag either. 


There are so many products out there to wash your face with that it can be difficult to pick one that works for your skin type. Of course, you could just be like me and hate all the hullabaloo that goes along with cleansing and just want to it to be quick and painless, but not make your skin dry or cause it to break out. TAKEoffz might be your new best friend at the end of a long day when you just want to climb into bed.
 

I love these. They are oil-free, moisturizing and does the work of a cleanser and toner in one. They're made with natural hydrating ingredients like aloe, chamomile and vitamin E. The wipe is soft and pulled all my makeup off with a few quick swipes, leaving my skin feeling squeaky clean and tingly. It smells nice, too, but not that strong, which is perfect for those with allergies (like me) or for men who might want to use these to just freshen up during the day or at the end, because they need to think about skin care, too.


You ever have that gross teeth feeling like you wish you had a toothbrush? I get that sometimes in the middle of the day, especially when I'm eating random things that I don't usually eat. The theme park is the worst, or that fuzzy feel your mouth gets during a long plane ride. SPEAKeazy is made for you. It's like a mouth wash in a wipe that can clean the surface debris off your teeth and freshen your breath. I waited until the end of the day, when I knew a brushing would do me some good and then I swiped SPEAKeazy over my teeth a few times and asked Eric how my breath was. He said it was minty and worthy of a kiss, so you can definitely talk to strangers from a normal distance without worrying about gross breath or scuzzy-feeling teeth. They are easy to use and have some nice little nubbies on the wipe to get in the crevices and dig out food pieces that might be hiding. You can fit a bunch in your purse, or one in your pocket to use whenever you need it, because you can't always just stop and brush your teeth wherever you are.

Okay, so I've had some iffy experiences with deodorant wipes. Either they are too girly smelling or I use two and the rest dry up or they don't work at all. You could carry a regular deodorant stick with you for reapplication during the day, but it takes up a bunch of room and if it's hot outside, it melts. It's all a big bunch of nope. I wanted to really test this one out. I already know they won't dry out if I just use one and then don't use the others right away. The NOsweat wipes are large (I dare say large enough that you could cut them in half and share them with a friend if you wanted) and have a pleasant mild smell (they aren't flowery or smell like baby powder). Appropriate for anyone who wanted to use them, man or woman. I opted to swipe this under my arms instead of using my normal deodorant stick. I'll tell you what: it was still working at the end of the day and I didn't even catch a little whiff of B.O. These are going to be a staple in my travel bag and my purse, because wow!


Those were my favorites of the sample pack I received, but the other products were just as awesome. IN THE klear wipes are fantastic lens cleaners. I used them on my glasses and they were clearer than they'd been since I got them at the ophthalmologist. I then used the same wipe on my computer screen, because it's a dust and dog hair magnet. They look like those thin alcohol pads you get in packets, but have no smell and aren't watery at all. These are great for cleaning your cell phone face as well. 

Got dry skin or need to wash up without a sink nearby? Use a KLEANupz wipe instead. It's antibacterial, but also hydrating. With ingredients including aloe vera and vitamin E, it moisturizes while killing 99.9% of germs. If you have kids, you need these, and the next one. 

Use the same germ-killing power on other surfaces, too. KLEANoffs are fierce cleansing wipes you can use on that gross hotel room phone and remote, restaurant tables and that germ-covered airplane tray table. It smells citrusy instead of like cleaning product, making your surroundings feel fresh instead of strictly sterile.

photo credit
Now, you're probably worried about all these extra products you're taking with you, but don't, because all Savvy Travelers wipes are biodegradable and compostable and made using solar energy, making them environmentally friendly and convenient. They are also definitely not tested on animals, so they're also ethical. How can you go wrong? Buy each wipe in a set of 6 packets per box or get the travel pack that comes with 4 wipes each of their most popular wipes: NOsweat, IN THE klear, TAKEoffz and SPEAKeazy. 


Whether you're running into a meeting and keep these in your desk at work or sightseeing your way around Paris, these wipes can work in a pinch. Though the packaging can be more geared toward ladies, men can and do use Savvy Travelers as well, because the smells are unisex and work for everyone, plus they're super convenient and easy to pack (TSA compliant and all that). Who wouldn't want a few of these in their pocket or carry-on...or briefcase, for that matter? 

Other specs:
Where to buy them: On the Savvy Travelers website
How much they cost: $10 for 6-pack or $20 for the JETset package of 16 wipes

Right now, use code SAVVYVIP20 and get 20% off your order.

If you love Savvy Traveler like I do, find them online:

Disclosure: I was provided with a sample pack of goodies from Savvy Traveler for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Portland Dining Month 2016

It's no secret that Portland is a great dining hub. Our city is full of upscale restaurants (and just as many gourmet food carts) and endless food possibilities. Unfortunately, even as a lover of food, it's not financially possible to hit up all the restaurants I want to try throughout the year, but Portland Dining Month is when to plan to hit up the most coveted on your list. The whole of March is set aside for food, food and more food, and I love it.

portland dining month

Here's why Portland Dining Month is awesome (and those in other cities across the nation, too): You dine at any of the participating restaurants and get three courses for $29 per diner. Now, last year we dined at three restaurants. This year, a lot has been going on and we have only made it to the one so far, but there's still a week to go.


Our choice for dinner this last week was Urban Fondue. We'd been there before, but not for many years. I'm a lover of fondue and this place basically gives you all the fixings to create a filling and relaxing dinner with mix-and-match meals that come with your choice of meats (or veggies), a bunch of awesome sauces and a broth in which to cook said meats and veggies. First course was a choose-your-own cheese fondue in which to dip breads in (though you can add on other dippers, like apples). Two share the starter and dessert, so we compromised on the brie and Gorgonzola fondue that had crunchy hazelnuts in it that made for a fun mix of textures.


In between our first course and second course, the waiter came by to tell us all about the 9 different sauces. Obviously, the meats and veggies have no seasoning on them, so you're getting extra flavor from the broth and sauces. My favorites were the blackberry ketchup and the mushroom demi, and of course Eric loved the peanut sauce. The smoked tomato aioli was also pretty yummy. So, then we ordered:

photo credit: Eric Botteron
I picked the East Meets West, which was basically a twist on surf and turf. It came with chicken, pork, prawns and scallops. Eric ordered the Chef's Cut, which was strictly pork and steak. Each selection comes with other items to mix it up. Ours came with little tortellinis, mushrooms, asparagus, squash, zucchini, carrots and parsnips. We got our foods with beef broth, because that was the chef's suggestion, but there are several others to choose from to go with any of your selections. The waiter gives you a quick low down on how to cook your stuff: 
use your timer to cook everything for 3 minutes
don't put raw meats on your plate
don't use the sauces until after you've cooked your meats
have fun!

click on pic to see the menu larger
You might think that waiting 3 minutes between each bite might be boring and make you twice as hungry, but you can do two fondue forks at a time, plus it allows you to slow down and enjoy each thing you put in your mouth. Also, by the time you've made it through your plate of meats and extras, you find that you're actually full, but hopefully not too full for dessert!


Again, we had to choose a dipping chocolate to share for our dessert. I would have picked tiramisu, Eric probably would have picked peanut butter and chocolate, but we decided to forgo either of our go-tos and went instead with the Heath Bar chocolate fondue. Your dessert plate comes with a variety of yummy options: marshmallows, cream puffs, cheesecake, cookie dough, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, doughnut pieces and pound cake. 
  

There is clearly something for everyone on the dessert plate and we were able to give everything a try and then decide who would eat more of what the other didn't like as much. Case in point: I can't eat pineapple, so Eric ate those bites and I had the strawberries. Of course, if neither of you can eat something, or you have food allergies, the wait staff point blank asks if this is the case before recommending anything or bringing anything to your table. That way they can leave something out and sub in something else or can steer you toward a better option based on your tastes and requirements.

I look forward to trying more restaurants this year, in what is left of March and beyond. Portland has opened quite a few new venues that sound amazing. Look for Dining Month in your own city, or plan your next trip to Portland in March. Our new campaign states "Portland is Happening Now" and it isn't wrong. We are becoming more and more popular every year, especially in the summer. Find more participating restaurants at Travel Portland, and more resources to plan your trip. Make your dining reservations through OpenTable to get points that you can trade in for free dining.

Which restaurants on the list would you be most excited to try?

Disclosure: I received a gift certificate to dine at Urban Fondue from Travel Portland, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Travel More Comfortably with Zensah Coffee Socks

When I travel, I almost always bring along a pair of slippers or fuzzy socks to wear in the hotel room, because my feet are always cold. The problem is that they sometimes get gross and I can't wear them outside with shoes, because slippers. Zensah started out making compression socks, which I also wear on long plane rides, because I have poor circulation, hence my feet being cold much of the time. They have now branched out into other travel socks that are also a must for your trips.

Zensah travel socks

Who's ever sat next to that person who gets really comfortable on the plane? I want to be that person, but gross, right? This is why I always have something on my feet when I fly. Zensah knows about people like me. Worried about regular socks being stinky or not warm enough, so I just leave my shoes on and feel uncomfortable. Or I pull out my slippers and then have to struggle to get them on in the no leg room and then back on when we land. Zensah has developed comfort socks for travelers made with coffee fibers. Say what? It's true. This eco-friendly fiber is both green and doesn't trap odors, so your socks won't ever smell and gross out your fellow passengers. 


These coffee socks are woven with Far Infrared Ray fibers (called Innergy yarn) that make them more durable, give your foot more support and better circulation and also traps your body heat to keep your feet warm without making them sweaty. The fabric is moisture-wicking and breathable while being warm and comfortable.


So, when you're on the plane and it's super chilly, which it seems to be a lot of the time, you can wear these without needing extra warmth. They are also cushiony, so walking down the aisle to the bathroom isn't hard on your feet and you won't feel like you're picking up all the dirt and germs.


I was given a sample pair of coffee socks at the Travel Goods Show and even though I was in Vegas, I knew I'd still be testing them out. My room was pretty cold, even with the air conditioner on low, because it had hardwood and tile floors. I swapped out my normal slippers for these socks and walked around making food and such, then sat on the couch to do a bit of work and watch TV. I was surprised by how cushioning they really were. It was like I was wearing my slippers again, except my ankles were also warm. Bonus! I couldn't feel the hard floors like I would with regular socks on and the cold didn't seep in either. 


Not only that, but they have a bit of arch support, which you can see as the band in the middle of the foot. That's the other cool thing about these socks: They have a clear right and left foot, so it can mold to your foot instead of stretching out to fit either foot like a regular sock. I felt like these were nice and tight (but not too tight) and supportive and kept my feet from getting chilly when the air blew on me even when the rest of me was cold and I had to put on a sweater. I'll definitely be packing these for my future trips, and I would even if they weren't cute. Luckily, they are. They come in several colors for both men and women and wear fairly good inside your favorite sneakers, though you might have to loosen the laces.

Now, if you think that wasting perfectly good coffee on socks is a shame, know that these are made from the fiber of the shell residue, so the same plants that provide the beans that you have for your morning cup of Joe can also be used for warming your feet! That's pretty awesome and multi-tasking.

Other Specs
Where to buy: On Zensah website
How much: $29.99/pair
Colors: Cloud | Sky | Rosy (shown) | Twilight
Fabric: Special fibers coated with oxide minerals retain naturally occurring Far Infrared (FIR) Rays. Extra-soft looped knitting on inside.

Loving Zensah's sock innovation? Find them online:

Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of Zensah coffee socks for the purposes of this review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cheeki Ready-to-Wear Undies For Faster Packing

I don't know about you, but I like to keep my travel bag packed with as many necessities as possible, so when I'm ready to travel, I only have to toss in my shoes and travel wardrobe (which obviously will be different, depending on where I'm going, so I can't keep everything packed like I would like). Having fresh undies in my bag at all times is on the top of my list and having new ones is always nice, but then you gotta wash the before you can wear them and they can get all musty hanging around in your carry-on. Cheeki, apparently, knows my pain.


For ladies that always like to have a spare pair in their purse, their car or their gym bag (and their carry-on), Cheeki has created adorable undies for ladies in different styles that are individually packaged and hermetically-sealed, so you can wear them immediately. You don't have to worry about who touched them at the store, because no one has ever touched them. They're clean and ready to wear right out of the pouch. 


I snagged a pair of the Frisky Business at the Travel Goods Show. These are one size fits most and have the most coverage. I wore them on my car ride back from Vegas. That amounted to a full 17 hours of sitting in the car, with a few pit stops for food and potty breaks. You know how a regular long day of sitting at your desk can make that situation down there.

I love the look of the Frisky Business bikini. They are soft and edged with lace. (You can get a similar bikini without lace, too.) Now, I don't know about you, but many times when you get lacy undies, they either create pantylines (boo to VPL!) or the lace has no give and cuts into your hips...or both. I had neither of these problems with Cheeki. In fact, they were so comfortable, it was like I has owned them for years, except the lace wasn't all stretched out and they didn't slide down the longer I wore them. They were like my second skin, but in a good way. 

Now, don't judge me, but after I finally made it home, I basically just fell into bed. I took two seconds to chuck off my jeans before burrowing under the covers and succumbing to sleep. That means I also slept in these undies. Even after a full 24+ hours, these didn't ride up on me either, even with moving around in bed during sleep. You'll be glad to know that I did get up and immediately throw them in the wash. After, they were just as awesome as when they came out of the bag. I'm a convert.


Okay, so here's what I will say regarding the sizing. These fit me perfectly. I generally will wear a size 6 or S/M in undies, so I'm not sure if they will fit "most". Anything larger than a Medium or 7 probably won't find these that comfortable or get the desired coverage. However, the other two style (the thongs and g-string) will probably fit more people who like less coverage.


So, no matter where you might need an extra pair of undies, or if you just like having brand new ones on hand when you travel or hit the gym, you don't have to keep your emergency pair in a zip top bag like you're carrying around your lunch. Invest in a pair (or seven) of Cheeki undies and carry them wherever you need them, because you never know what'd going to happen. The airline could lose your luggage (if you make the mistake of checking a bag). You could accidentally dump orange juice in your lap (this has totally happened to me). Your "friend" may come unexpectedly. You end up spontaneously spending the night somewhere. You name it and a spare pair could be a lifesaver.

Other specs
Where to purchase: On the Cheeki website
How much: $12/pair, with free shipping in the U.S.
Colors available: In classic black or blush (so they go under everything you own)
Fabric: Microfiber with 100% cotton lining
Styles: Frisky Business lace-lined bikini (shown) | Racy Lacy thong | Sleekini Bikini | Go-Go g-string | Minima thong 

I'm in love with this brand and this little packet and will definitely be getting more for my life. If you love this idea too, go buy your own pair or find them here:


Disclosure: I was given a pair of Cheeki undies for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why You Should Travel with Just a Carry-on

By now you know I'm a huge believer in carry-on travel. Unless it's absolutely necessary, I refuse to check a bag. When I do, it's either at the gate when they ask for volunteers and I can see them put my bag on the plane or on the way back home from somewhere that I've bought too many gifts and need extra bag for those purchases (all my buys go with me and my clothes get checked). 

carry-on travel tips

Have you ever lost a bag while traveling? I mean, obviously, the airline lost it on your behalf, which is even worse, because now you have someone to blame for not having any clean underwear. And there's nothing you can do about it, but wait and hope it turns up. And cry. The five minutes after the conveyor belt stops and your bag never shows up you're in shock and then you quickly enter the five stages of grief:
  • Denial: They haven't lost my bag. It's probably just slow coming from the plane. Any second now...
  • Anger: This is all they do all day every day! How the &*!$ can they lose my bag?! All my clothes are in there!
  • Bargaining: Please Lord. If you find my bag, I swear I'll donate all my extra clothes to charity!
  • Depression: (crying in your hotel bed) I'll never be able to replace those cute sandals...or leave this room until I go home.
  • Acceptance: I'll just go shopping and then go to the bar. What do I need? A dress and a bikini? Done.
Of course, sometimes they find your bag. Sometimes they don't find it until after you've already bought new stuff to replace what they lost. I've been lucky and had a bag go to LA when I went to Nassau and it showed up two hours after I did, but they were able to track it. I didn't get that shrug from the airline crew member while they took down my information and I had no inkling of hope. 


If you're unfortunate enough to never get your stuff back, you should know that eventually other people will enjoy it by purchasing it from Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama. It's basically lost luggage heaven, though it gets the chance to travel again with new owners.

The only way to make sure your stuff makes it with you to your destination is to fly carry-on. It can take some practice to learn to do it effectively, and even I am still perfecting my packing, but I now pretty much know the magic formula for what to bring and what to leave at home. I'm willing to do laundry in order to bring fewer pieces and make sure I know when I will do it, so I don't suddenly find myself without any clean shirts or have to leave in the middle of something to get it done. Having it on my schedule means I have clean clothes and also down time to relax and decompress, which is important for any trip. 


Even on a short trip, like the road trip I took last week to Vegas, I plan to do a load, because I don't want to come home with a bag of dirty laundry. I was able to come home and put it all away, which I have an issue doing, because I hate unpacking. Knowing everything in my bag, with the exception of pjs and a pair of undies, are clean makes unpacking a little more exciting.

So, how do you pack for a week or two in just a carry-on? This is the part where it helps to have a piece of paper and know what's in your closet. Choose a color palette that you want to work with. Somehow, my travel wardrobe leans to blue and tan. Not on purpose, but because the things I like that match are mostly blue. I always choose a neutral bottom color like khaki or black and then choose tops that will mix and match with those. That means if you have two tops and two bottoms, you can make four different outfits. 


The magic formula for me is 3 bottoms + 5 tops = 15 unique outfits. Remember that you can rotate in your commuting clothes into your wardrobe as well, so dress accordingly, if you can. I like to wear stretchy jeans on the plane, because they are comfortable and also go with pretty much everything. I'll also throw in a travel dress, which gives me more options as well. 

Shoes. I'm a chick. I love shoes. It's not a secret. Where I don't love shoes is when I'm traveling, because they take up too much room and weigh down my bag. I'm short and not incredibly strong, so the less my bag weighs, the better. Besides, I usually travel with my full-size laptop for getting work done, so I need to make a trade-off. I say take only two pairs of shoes. Don't freak out. You can do this. In fact, I ended up wearing just one pair of shoes for two weeks in Europe the first time I went and was fine. 

Bring a pair of walking shoes. Good ones that'll allow you to sightsee all day if you need to. Usually these are bulkier, like sneakers, and I wear these on the plane to save space in my bag. I then pack a pair of nicer shoes that I can also walk in and wear with a dress. Either a pair of ballet flats or a pair of sandals, depending on where I'm going and what I'll be doing. I will also tell you to throw a pair of flip flops in your bag. I don't count them as shoes, because they don't take up much space. They're also great for trips to the pool, beach, continental breakfast. You name it. And if you find that your feet are swollen from the plane ride or walking all day, they will be your best friend when you have to leave your room.


Are you going to go out and want to get a bit dressy? Leave your fancy dress and stuff at home. Instead, glam up what you've brought with you with accessories. Chances are, you're not going to wear anything clubby or too dressy enough to justify putting it in your bag, so pack smaller things like statement jewelry. You'll be happy you went that route than if you packed heels and a mini skirt. After a long day of walking and being touristy, putting on those shoes are going to be torture. I've never once made it out of the room wearing those dressy shoes I brought, so I stopped bringing them altogether and used that room for something useful.

Once you've figured out what works for you, you'll enjoy packing and traveling much more. Here's what I suggest for ladies: 

3 bottoms + 5 tops + 1 dress + 2 pairs of shoes + 1 jacket + 5 pairs of undies + 1 sweater/cardigan + 1 packable rain jacket

And here's what I suggest for men:

3 bottoms + 5 tops + 2 pairs of shoes + 1 sports jacket + 2 ties + 5 pairs of undies + 1 jacket + 1 packable rain jacket

Now, for your next trip, you can save baggage fees, eliminate the possibility of lost luggage and not struggle with carrying all your stuff. If you need help with your toiletries, here are tips for your 3-1-1 bag. By traveling this way, I've never once said "I wish I'd brought..." Usually I make a note of the items I don't use. 

Where will your next trip take you?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What's Going On Around Here


Today I wanted to try a new kind of post. I've been road tripping to and from Vegas to attend the Travel Goods Show, meaning you will be getting a lot of reviews in the coming months of fantastic new products that are fun and innovative. So, I wanted to do a unique kind of list for you that's a bit more personal than my usual posts. You can tell me if you like it in the comments!

road trip thoughts

Making: Better time than I thought, until it got dark in the last three hours of my trip.

Drinking: As much water as I can, but also these fun Neuro Sonic drinks* that are carbonated and have infused vitamins to give you a boost.

Listening: I've got the Stephen Fry versions of the Harry Potter books to listen to on my trip and they really make the time fly by...plus, his Hagrid voice is perfect. In case you're looking for them, they are the UK versions of the books

Looking: There's so much road out here.

Wishing: Why aren't there more rest stops? I mean, 200 miles with nothing? Glad I'm not a kid with a tiny bladder.

Enjoying: You wouldn't think 17 hours in the car alone would be fun, but I liked it.

Wondering: Why do people insist on driving with their brights on, but not dimming them when they are coming right at you? Just why???

Considering: Making the trip again next year, but probably on the plane, since it will be in February and there will be more chance of snow.

Watching: My GPS, so it can get me through that last stretch on the way to Vegas.

Hoping: Don't you always hope you don't run out of gas, even when you know you have plenty? I also hoped the snowy spots didn't mean there would be ice on the road. 

Marvelling: There are some cool covered picnic tables on a beach outside of Reno. I might have to stop on the way back to really check it out.

Needing: A pick-me-up halfway through is a nice thing to have. Of course, a walk around a store also helps, too.

Smelling: Even though they're in a Ziploc bag, my whole car smells like onion bagels. Yum!

Wearing: A new stripey shirt from Columbia Sportswear and a pair of stretchy jeans from James Jeans.

Thinking: My road trip to Montana later this year is going to be fun, especially with the dog.

Buying: Snacks I don't need, but what's a road trip without a bunch of munchies, even if you brought plenty with you?

Disliking: That I stopped to use a restroom at a fast food place and made the mistake of also getting a burger and fries which made me super tired.

Feeling: I totally feel like an accomplished solo traveler by taking this road trip by myself.

Look at me even getting to ride the Monorail by myself!

*Neuro didn't pay me to say that I liked these drinks. I just happened to grab one at a gas station on my way and really enjoyed them. If Neuro were to send me a case of them, though, I would not say no. LOL!

So, what do you think? Would you like more posts like this randomly? If so, what would you like to see added to it?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why You Should Seek Out Food Trucks When You Travel

As a Portlandian, it's common to talk to people about your favorite food trucks, or to run out and get a quick lunch if you work anywhere in the city. Food trucks and food carts aren't as prevalent everywhere, but in most big cities, food cart culture is where it's at and a fantastic way to try new foods for less and really get to know what a city's all about from their food. If you're traveling with a group or with kids, it really allows everyone to be happy with the dining options, while not breaking the bank.

affordable travel food

Dining at traditional restaurants can really add up quickly, and if you're tired of your kids eating the same five things (pizza, mac and cheese, hamburger, chicken nuggets, PB&J), splitting entrees with your companions or ordering the least expensive options, then food trucks are where you need to be headed. You can experience some of the best food in the city for less, because you aren't paying for all the overhead (wait staff, tables, rental space). Unless there's a tip jar, you don't even have to think about adding extra to your bill. The truth is that even some of the spendiest items on a food cart menu are still less than plates at a normal restaurant.


Food carts are the new gourmet dining. Food trucks are all the rage. They are booming the world over. Lucky for me, I live in the number one food cart destination on the globe (as named by Travel + Leisure) and can eat cuisine from all over the world everywhere I go within Portland. From ice cream to Lebanese to Cuban, there is something for everyone, including this delicious waffle cart that makes a dough for their waffles and then tops them with all kinds of yummy combinations. Within the same block, we can have hot dogs, Hawaiian, Thai, Mexican, dumplings and Mediterranean. That’s not even all the choices! Each truck specializes in their few menu items, so you know it’s the best it can be.


More choices. How can this be when food carts are so small? Where there’s one food cart/truck, there are usually others. It’s unlikely for several of the same cuisine carts to gather in the same place, which means you have a choice of different kinds of food. This is great for those traveling with kids who are picky and never seem to want the same thing you are eating. Don’t like the dessert one cart is serving? Go check out what the others have to offer!


Mobile dining. Not only is your restaurant mobile, but you can also take your food with you. Either eat nearby or enjoy your meal on your way through the city. It’s a great way to burn calories and save time when you want to get more sightseeing done.

Where are some of your favorite food cart travel destinations? And what did you order?

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